South Bay

30 Ways To Keep Summer Going after School Begins

Whether you're relieved by the quiet or disturbed by the abrupt ending, most LA families are using those three little words (back to school) a whole lot earlier these days. Of course, dropping our kids off at school doesn't change the weather; there might be no child left behind at the beach, but it's still summer until close to Halloween. So if your family is not yet ready for summer to end, pick a few items off our Endless Summer List and go have some fun while the sun still shines!

Free, Kid Friendly Workouts for Mom or Dad at the Mall

The first time you throw your little ones in the backseat of the car and take them to the mall, it’s a magical, low-cost experience for all: Ice cream! Merry-go-round! Free air conditioning! A few hours later, you’ve got yourself a happy, tired family. The twentieth time? Not so much.

But don’t give up! Malls want you to come, and they’re willing to do you a favor or two to get you there. It may seem counterintuitive to head to the mall in search of free stuff, but, in the spirit of reeling us in, many malls offer kid-friendly, free workouts for moms. In other words, the mall is one of very few places where you can exercise without dropping a wad of cash on an expensive class and/or babysitter. I can’t promise that you won’t end up splurging on lunch or a new pair of skinny jeans (that’s the whole point of the free workout, isn’t it?), but the sweat sessions listed below are free to anyone with an iron will.

Free (and Almost-Free) Archery Classes for LA & OC Kids Who Love Bows and Arrows

A fair number of kids who see Brave or The Hunger Games end up curious about archery, and a fair number of their parents end up scratching their heads and saying, "Where do we do that??" Gymnastics, swimming—that's easy. But where to bring a would-be archer to string a bow and shoot some arrows? Less obvious, perhaps, but not as hard as you might think. And the even better news? It's usually free!

School Start & End Dates: 2017-18 Academic Year Calendars for LA County Schools

Summer vacation ain't what it used to be. The majority of SoCal school districts now opt for an August start date, with only a few South Bay stragglers sticking with the old-school, New York style post-Labor Day start. And beware assuming that school starts and finishes roughly when it did last year, because schedules seem to change all the time. This year Alhambra is first out of the gate, leading the back-to-school race with a pool-party-pooper start date of August 10; Torrance kids still get the most out of summer with their September 7th first day.

Wondering where your district fits in, and how much time you have left for these 50 Free Things To Do in Summer? Bookmark our list below with start and finish dates for the 2017-2018 school year all over LA County. And if what you read makes you wonder about what other school options are available to you, maybe our school guide can help.

Public Swimming Pools With Extras Worth the Drive in LA and OC

Sure, there are miles and miles of beaches in SoCal, but sometimes you need a break from the sand and you want water that's a little less, well, wavy. Most of us are willing to go out of our way to find a pool that’s open to the public for recreational swimming and offers something special: Think slides, water play features, extended shallow areas for the little ones to splash in, or a beautiful, peaceful setting. Here’s our list of cool destination pools worth a drive in LA and OC. Most range in price from $1 to $12 per person, and several offer discounted season passes (check websites for details).

15 Great Barbecue Grills and Pits in LA Parks for Cooking Out with Family

Nothing says “summer” like barbecue. Many of our local parks are standing by with grills and pits to satisfy that craving for charred food. And the beauty of life in Southern California is that "summer" can be practically any time of year; the 15 parks below have year-round, mostly free barbecue facilities, ready for birthday parties, holiday celebrations, spontaneous picnics, or family dinners al fresco.

Kids Bowl Free: Truly Free and Cheap Bowling for Kids All Over LA

My son went to a bowling party recently that sparked an obsession with the game. Ever the supportive parent, I soon found myself at bowling outings all around town on behalf of his newfound interest. And I realized something: bowling is a really great sport for kids. The ingrained turn-taking structure, team camaraderie, and relaxed competitiveness offer kiddos a dose of sportsmanship at a fun pace. Accommodations like gutter bumpers and starting ramps guarantee success for even the youngest bowlers. Seriously, bowling is like the unsung hero of children's athletics. And it must have been this idea that fueled the creation of Kids Bowl Free, a fantastic nationwide program designed to give youth a constructive way to beat the heat. Read on to find out how your kids can bowl free every day this summer.

Free Admission for Active Duty Military Families with Blue Star Museums

Free museum admission is not just for kids in the summer months. More than 2000 museums across the country have joined the Blue Star initiative, offering free admission to active military personnel and their families* all summer long, from Memorial Day (Monday May 29 through Labor Day (Monday September 4). Spread the word; if you don't have active military in your own family, let your friends know that from the Automobile Driving Museum to the Santa Monica Aquarium and a whole slew in between, the men and women who protect all of our families can treat their families this summer.

4th of July Fireworks Cruises for Families in LA and OC

We landlubbers love our fireworks, don't we? Whether we're in a back yard lawn chair, or pushing the kids up a ladder to the roof, or being wowed by a sky full of flare and color at the local pier, we don't want to miss this very American 4th of July custom. Well, if you think the view from the shore is stunning, try witnessing the spectacle from a boat. That's a holiday memory your kiddos won't soon forget! Several small cruise boats set sail this Independence Day, with 2-3 hour tours to delight you and your first mates. Snuggle on deck under a blanket and watch the sky come alive as the water sparkles below. Read on to find a boat leaving a port near you.

Free Summer Concerts and Outdoor Concert Series in LA and OC

Check back often; we continue adding concerts throughout the season!

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Or better yet, get out of the house. Summer in the Southland means outdoor concerts galore (and many are free!) at a host of local parks, museums, and public spaces from the coast to the hills to the Valleys. Go on, get out. Throw down a blanket, spread out the snacks, uncork the wine, and watch the kids boogie under the evening stars as you sway to some cool and breezy melodies. Below are some of our favorite free concert series that return every year; check our daily calendar to find dozens more!

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